Mondays are better with brownies, obviously

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Hiya!

Happy Monday! Because I knoooow these are going to make your Monday that. much. better.

They’re BROWNIES.

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Of COURSE they’ll make your otherwise slightly blah Monday better. Especially when I tell you that they are a) full of health bennies just for you and b) defs allergy friendly. And… as I said…

They’re BROWNIES!

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When have brownies in your inbox *not* made your Monday better? Right. I rest my case.

Have I ever shared my weird brownie proclivities on here? I’m not sure that I have so just in case you were dying to know…

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I’m weird. I like (no. Maybe love) brownies, but… I NEVER eat them. Nor do I ever make them. For some reason, I am never satisfied with the brownies that my kitchen produces. Why? Not crackly enough on the crust. Not chewy enough on the edges or fudgy chewy in the center. Whatever the reason, I am never quite sold on my own brownies, so they kind of get relegated to the bottom of the recipe pile. Which means that I only really eat brownies once a year… at camp.

Guys. These brownies are like CRACK. They are so ridiculously amazing, I can’t stop at one which means that I usually eat them all week long, multiple times a day (it’s a good thing the camp is at 8000 feet elevation…). I have a problem. But also. Those are, strangely enough, made from a mix!! I’m mildly ashamed to admit it (given that EVERYTHING on this blog is from scratch, and I never use mixes when I cook), but there it is. Favorite brownies come from a mix and are made in gigantic sheet pans in the temperamental Two Sentinels ovens that don’t heat evenly. But they’re fantastic. And they’re full of love, which is probably why I adore them so much.

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However. I broke my once-a-year brownie trend for these, mostly because they looked so tasty in the photos and they’re good for me. Ish. Obvs still a treat but whateverrrrrr, happy belated to me and vaccuum vati!

I’m not paleo. I like beans. But I also like a good cooking challenge and I have quite a few paleo friends, so here you go. Paleo brownies in yo’ inbox.

Happy Monday! Sorry I’m not sorry y’all want brownies now, heeheehee!

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Jackson Pollock-style brownies are WAY more fun…

Sweet Potato Brownies

Not quite cakey, not quite fudgy (which is good since a brownie somewhere between is my favorite), totally good for you and easy to whip together. High in Vitamin A/Beta Carotene, good fats, antioxidants, fiber, gluten free and refined sugar free. Recipe adapted from Eat Drink Paleo, here! Makes 9 large or 12 small squares.

  • 1 sweet potato (I used orange), grated in the larger holes on a box grater
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c pure avocado oil*
  • 1/2 c maple syrup**
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5-2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2-3 biggish squares of dark chocolate, melted (I used 75%), for topping
  • dairy or nondairy ice cream thing to make sundaes (you know you want to)

*I use avocado oil or coconut for anything above 300 or 325—-they have a higher smoke point. Mine is organic.
**I always use 100% pure organic grade B maple syrup.

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Preheat the oven to 365, and line a 9 by 9″ pan with parchment paper for easy removal.

Get a bicep workout by grating the sweet potato. Toss grated bits into a medium sized bowl, then add in eggs, vanilla, avo oil, and maple. Stir in baking powder and soda, then cocoa powder (try to smash out any major lumps, but it doesn’t have to be perfect). Lastly… stir in coconut flour (avoid using too much, it will make the brownies dry and gritty)—start with 1 tbsp and work from there. I ended up using the full 2 tbsp, but I think I could have reduced it to 1.5. The batter should be thickish. Spread it into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes. I took mine out at 25—a tester came out clean and the top was still a bit soft when pressed.

Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lift the parchment out onto a cooling rack to let them cool completely.

Once cool, “frost” with melted dark chocolate and shredded coconut. It’s a really excellent idea to make these into sundaes… juuust sayin’!

Store them in the fridge in the foil covered pan if you have any left over!

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Cookies that play nice in the sandbox

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OoOooOOOOooohhhh the first of the fall baking has arrived!

PUMPKIN.

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Why isn’t it a year-round thing?? I always think that summer fruit is my favorite thing, but then around comes fall (which happens to be my favorite season anyway) and I get all obsessed with pumpkin. So fickle.

But seriously. Pumpkin is one of my favorite things ever. And healthy cookies are right up there next to pumpkin on the favorite things list, so obviously why would I NOT combine these?! Helloooo.

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I’m going to start my pumpkin hoarding sometime soon…. you know what I mean if you’ve hung around my inbox snark the last several years: come fall, everyyytime I go to the store, I grab an extra can of pumpkin. Can never have too much, right?! … Right. Sorry. I have a problem. BUT. That also means that when everyone else is fighting over the *last* can of pumpkin within a 10 mile radius, I am sitting pretty on my hoarded stash. And can therefore make pumpkin things. All. The. Time. Yep. Be jealous. Or don’t, and implement my genius strategy for yourself… you’ll thank me later.

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These cookies play nice in the sandbox, too, as they’re dairy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, and paleo. Even if you don’t subscribe to any particular dietary theory (like me. I’m an omnitarian), it’s only fair to make cookies that can make nice for other people too, right?! Cookies are meant to be shared. They’re like love, in food form.

Bake love. Share food (preferably with a bestie over tea). Eat. Be happy!

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Pumpkin Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, here! My batch yielded 10 cookies, about 2.5-3″. Paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free! Not to mention full of beta carotene, healthy fats, and antioxidants. How could you pass up these little gems?! That’s right… I thought not!

  • 1 c almond flour/almond meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree (Just pumpkin, not pie filling pleeease!)
  • 2.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I make my own: 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, pinch of cardamom or mace), plus more to sprinkle on the top of yet-to-be-baked cookies
  • 2 large squares of 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped

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Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking soda and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, pumpkin, honey, and vanilla. Stir wet into dry (and do try to avoid overmixing, we can’t have that…). Stir in chocolate, and drop by the tablespoonish onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkleysprinkle some extra pumpkin pie spice on there because that is an excellent idea. Smooth them out just a little… then pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes.

Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few as they’re soft right out of the oven—they’ll seem too soft at first but they firm up nicely. Store them in the fridge, if they last that long!

Your kitchen will smell like heaven. Indulge responsibly ;)

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A lentil and squashlet autumnal party

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You can never have too many lentils.

Ever.

My nickname at work is lentil. That explains a lot.

Besides, lentils are bomb since they give you a protein source to pair with all of the autumnal squashlets (no, auto correct, squashlet IS in fact a word, so there). Wheeeee SQUASH! Not only did I use pumpkin yesterday, but I also got to bust out a (homegrown!) butternut squash! Get ready, there’s going to be an abundance of orange coming in the next few months…

I love that squash coincides with my birthday. It feels like nature’s birthday present!! Large, orangey deliciousness.

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Butternut squash always reminds me of a particularly memorable game of Cranium that took place ohhh, probably sometime in high school… my pair was supposed to be acting out butternut squash, and it was maybe one of the more hilarious things I’ve watched: First word: sounds like…*points at butt*… second bit: *mimes being a squirrel burying something*… lastly and rather violently smooshes hands together—-I had been guessing as she was miming and somehow I guessed it!! Excellent mime skills right there. But anyway… I can’t really cook a squash without thinking about that, hehe.

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Skillet Popped Balsamic Lentils

Recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Life, here! I made one cup of lentils, which, supplemented with all the veggies, fed my fambam of 3 with enough leftovers for at about one meal. My butternut squash was small, so it only made enough puree for 3. Feel free to play with the seasoning—mine was an eclectic bunch of flavors that somehow came out tasting good. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

  • 1 c green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • 3-4 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar, divided
  • a few grinds of cracked pepper
  • judicious sprinkles of salt
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • a tbsp or two of milk beverage
  • 1 tsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 massive handfuls of spinach, rinsed
  • a bit of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • seasoning to taste*

*I used fresh marjoram, basil, and oregano to sauté the onion, then added cinnamon, cardamom, nutritional yeast and coconut aminos (and more balsamic) to the veggies after I added them in to sauté.

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For the lentils:
Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are done (about 30 minutes). They should be soft but still have some bite to them. Rinse and drain.

Heat a skillet over medium, and add a small bit of olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add about a cup of lentils, shaking the pan to ensure that they’re evenly spaced. They should sizzle and pop and make all kinds of fun noise. Let them sit for a few minutes, then toss in a tsp of balsamic and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. You’ll know they’re done when they get a bit toasty and crispy around the edges. Remove the first batch, add more oil, and repeat until all the lentils are used.

For the butternut puree: Peel and dice squash, discarding stringy and seedy inner bits. Using a steamer basket or your preferred method of steaming, cook squash until very fork tender. Remove from the steamer and mash with a potato masher or a fork (or a food processor, but I didn’t want to do extra dishes). Add a bit of milk beverage (I used unsweetened almond) to smooth it out, and (obviously) a bit of butter and salt.

For the veggies, I did a simple sauté with a bit of chicken stock added. Chop and dice all yo’ veggies, add olive oil to a deep skillet, and let it heat over medium. Once hot, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add cinnamon and cardamom and a bit more olive oil, then the rest of the veggies (zucchini, pepper, mushrooms, and spinach. I added a bit of broth after about 4 minutes of sautéing, then chucked in all the spinach and covered the skillet to let it reduce. Add coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s, or whatever other seasonings you like here, add lentils, and let it cook on low for a few. Serve warm, over butternut squash puree!

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Fig Newtons don’t have figs in them… do they?!

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I’m pretty sure everyone has a fig newton memory.

Not necessarily a good one, mind you, but I’m sure there’s at least one stored away in those memory banks. Mine happen to be a positive ones… I looooved those little figgy cookies growing up. I liked to eat around the cakey outside first, and then eat the middle with tiny little nibbles (Strangely enough I did that with Madeline cookies too, I see a trend here?!). But probably if you’d have asked me if I liked figs, I would have turned my nose up in an unbridled look of disgust. Because I did I associate figs with fig newtons? Absolutely not. Does a fresh fig taste like the interior of a fig newton? Um… no.

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Luckily for me, liking figs had nothing to do with liking fig newtons. I was fairly well supplied with fig newtons as a child, and even into college when I became obsessed with the Whole Foods version of “healthier” figgy bars (and my mom would nicely send a box of them in my freshman care packages). I’m pretty sure I hadn’t eaten a real fig until I was (gasp) OUT of college. Whoops. Definitely didn’t do that on purpose. Hey, in my defense, I didn’t cross paths with figs very often (until now).

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Oh fig newtons, how full of processed crap you are! I want to like them from a nostalgic point of view, but seriously?! I tried a bite of one a while ago and almost spat it out. Fact: they taste like cardboard. Thanks, five kinds of corn syrup… you might enable these to last through the apocalypse, but you can’t make them taste like food! Oh wait. That’s right, they’re a food product, not a food.

BUT!

Lucky for you. THESE taste even better than a fig newton AND they’re made from real food and things you can pronounce. Wheeee!

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Vegan Figgy Bars

I got about 20 little bars out of this, that were slightly bigger than a conventional fig newton. Vegan, refined sugar free, and gluten free. What’s not to like? Oh and right, they’re delicious. Recipe slightly adapted from The Iron You, here!

  • 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4+1/8 c maple syrup
  • 1/8 c refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c (a good handful) dried figs*
  • 1/8 c lemon juice
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • 1 tbsp peach jam**
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

*my figs were SO dry, they were like small pebbles. I reconstituted them in a bit of boiling water for about 10 minutes, which made them soft enough not to kill my food processor.

**mine was flat peach, raspberry and vanilla (freaking delicious), courtesy of Anna!! Her blog is over here.

In a largeish bowl, combine almond flour and salt. In a slightly smaller bowl, stir together maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until combined. The batter will be super runny, which is okay! Cover the bowl and pop it into the fridge for at least an hour, to let it solidify a bit.

In the bowl of your food processor, process figs until they’re more like a chunky paste. Add in lemon juice, dates, jam, and vanilla, and blend until combined. I tasted mine a few times along the way and adjusted as I went. Set the filling aside until the dough is done.

Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using two separate sheets of parchment, roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thickness. Use a knife to divide it into two roughly even rectangles, then spread the filling down the dough, slightly off center so there is enough dough to cover it back up. Use the parchment paper to roll the dough back over the filling, pressing the edges and the ends together to seal it off. Make them look pretty by smoothing with your fingers (you’re all alone in the kitchen, who’s to see?!)… then pop them into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until they begin to brown. They should feel slightly firm to the touch in the center when they’re done. Let cool on the baking sheet before moving them, as they’re slightly delicate before they’re cooled. These keep best in the fridge!

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Soup is like my problem child

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Hello invisible internet friends!

I made soup for you, and I apologize in advance because I HATE photographing soup. It can look all cute and aesthetic, and then I stare at it through a camera lens and my first response is always…

Ew.

I LOVE soup. Why is it so annoying to photograph?! You would think that a bowl of chunky veggies and lumpy lentils… oh. Wait. That’s right. Lumpy is not generally considered aesthetic. Problem child.

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Well, whatever. Pictures may be lacking but soup and flatbread are incredibly aesthetic to my stomach, so there. We already know I love lentils an any form, so obviously it’s a give that I love lentil soup. And really we all know that soup is just an excuse for a carby side (ie, BREAD, wheee!!).. and thusly that bread is a convenient conveyance for butter, what a glory. Bread+butter= doesn’t get much better. Oh, right, and add in the side of soup to nicely round things out for a balanced type meal.

In other news, I have eaten some delicious croissants and trout and avo lately… (it was too pretty not to share!)

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Annnnddd  I made what appears to be the world’s tiniest buckwheat cookie. Sorry it kind of looks like… a turd?! It was delicious, promise.

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This soup is also delicious, have I neglected to mention that?! It also comes together in about 20 minutes, or less depending on if you puree (which I did not… lack of immersion blender, blender of any sort, and a leaky food processor notwithstanding). If you like cumin-type flavors, put this on your dinner list… now!

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Simple Lentil Soup

I ate this with the Sri Lankan roti flatbread I’ve made before, here. The soup recipe is lightly adapted, courtesy of Sukarah, here! We got three dinner servings out of it, plus a small bit of leftovers.

  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 4-5 carrots, chunked/diced
  • 4 c water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 c fresh spinach, rinsed

Combine lentils, carrots, water, and cinnamon stick in a large-ish soup pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, covered, and let simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 15 minutes (they will have absorbed most of the water, but there should be some liquid still left).

In a sauté pan, toss in olive oil and heat over medium. When heated, add in onions and sauté until translucent. While onions are going, chuck in spinach to sauté/wilt. Add cumin and salt, and continue sautéing until onions begin to brown slightly.  Remove from heat. Once finished, add onions/spinach to the lentils, and let simmer for a few minutes more. Remove from heat when ready to serve.

At this point, you can puree it for a creamy texture, or leave it chunky as I did. I like chunks… and, as I said, I have some slight gadgety issues at the moment that prevent mess-less pureeing… soooo… good think I like chunks.

Serve hot, preferably with some sort of bread!

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Spinach. On. The. Ceiling?!

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Did I tell you that vaccuum vati found a piece of spinach on the kitchen ceiling the other day? 

Yeahhhh. That happened. How on earth did I manage that?! Welcome to my life: “Hello, my name is Hayley and I am obsessed with spinach!” I toooold you I put spinach where it didn’t belong, but um I had no idea it had gotten on the ceiling..?! I mean, I know I eat it multiple times a day, but that must have been some pretty ferocious chopping. You know, like Chopped Kitchen type of chopping.

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On. The. Ceiling. The mind boggles. 

Anyway.

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Today’s post has nothing to do with spinach and everything to do with apples. Mmm. Appleeesssssss. I feel like the witch in the Wizard of Oz when I say that… 

This tart is simple, good for your body, and good for your soul. It’s not very sweet–if you’re looking for a sweet dessert, this isn’t it. But I like it for a mid-meal snack post workout… or dessert, since I like mine less sweet anyway. I liked it with some added applesauce, and a few pieces of chopped date. It’s gluten free, vegan if you sub out the honey for maple, and contains no refined sugar. Hooray! I made it on a day that was cloudy and overcast, perfect for apples and baking. Simple, beautiful, and good for the soul. 

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And here. Happy Monday, here’s something beautiful! Have a wonderful day :) 

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Apple-Almond Tart 

Recipe lightly adapted from Tales of a Kitchen, here! This makes one full-sized tart/pie, depending on the pan you use. I would recommend a pie pan, as the crust is very crumbly—I don’t think it would come out of a tart pan too well. Next time I make this I think I’ll add dates to the crust instead of honey—I’d like it to be a bit crustier, less crumbly. But still delicious as is! Serves 8. 

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Laze around with me on a cloudy Sunday and produce the following:

  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1 c almond meal/flour (I grind my own from an equal amount of almonds in the food processor)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 apples, cored, peel on (I used fuji and daisy girl)
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 tbsp almond meal
  • 2 apples, finely sliced, peel on

Preheat the oven to 375, and lightly grease your pan of choice (I used a pie pan). 

In a large bowl, combine oat flour, almond meal, coconut, coconut oil, honey, and lemon zest. Mash it all together (ideally using your hands, it’s much more fun) until combined. Press the resulting mixture into the prepared pan, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork, and bake for 9-10 minutes, until lightly browned. When done, set it aside to cool slightly.

While the crust is baking, toss cored apples, cinnamon, and vanilla into the food processor (or blender). Blend until a smooth puree is reached. Toss this into a bowl, and stir in 5 tbsp almond meal. If it’s not thick enough and is still a little watery, add another tbsp of almond meal. Pour the filling into the slightly cooled crust, and arrange the finely sliced apples in a pretty pattern (this is very soothing, I found). 

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until your house smells delicious and the apples are a golden brown. Let cool before slicing, and store in the fridge! Excellent with a little extra applesauce, or I’m sure whipped coconut cream would be delicious as well, if you can be that on top of things (unlike me). 

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Free radicals are NOT invited to any of my parties

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Mmmm, sweet pohhhtayyytooeeeessssss! (You like that phonetic spelling there? Yeah, I thought so too). Hello, beta-carotene, I love you!

And then combine that deliciousness with powerful greens for a free-radical fighting snacklunchdinner (or maybe breakfast, who knows, maybe some of you are even weirder than me?!). I love love love making stuffed sweet potatoes for lunch! I started doing it sometime during my senior year of college when I discovered that sweet potato+egg+spinach makes a really cheap and wonderful combination… even more wonderful if there’s some avo lurking around as well (Who doesn’t love lurking avo?!).

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More recently I’ve been sticking with the greens+beans variety of sweet potato, probably because I like that it rhymes and who knows why I end up with random food combination obsessions; I’d be the last to know why I’m obsessed with something. Like… millet. It’s for the birds! Or is it?! Apparently it’s for me, too, and you can add that to your “Things that make Hayley even more of an-“alternative-awesome-hippie-who-eats-bird-food” list…I know you have one, don’t try to deny it…

Besides all of the inherent hippiness you get whenever you visually dine with me, this combination also happens to be an antioxidant powerhouse. Like, it deserves a cape it’s so good at saving the world (ie, your body) from the evil menace of those nasty free radicals. No one wants them invited to the party… thankfully, with this kind of dish, those free radicals get kicked to the curb by  antioxidants AND excellent dietary sources of vitamins A, C, and K, to name a few. Free radicals are NOT invited to my birthday parties…

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Side note, I made coconut quinoa porridge-pudding today! What is with this new strange pudding obsession? Is it because it’s hot? I mean, I’ve always loved rice pudding but seriously, this is getting out of hand. Three puddings in basically four days? Yep, that happened. At least I’m changing it up, this time it’s quinoa+coconut milk+cardamom+cinnamon+almond, yum yum yum. Breakfast? With almond butter? I think yes.

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Stuffed Sweet Potato with Beans and Greens

Recipe by… me! Serves 1, double or triple as needed. Simple, delicious, and comes together quickly. Perfect for a light dinner when it’s hot out, or pretty much whenever… I love it for lunch!

Scrounge and find:

  • 1 (decent sized) sweet potato
  • 1/2-1 tbsp tahini
  • olive oil
  • a good double handful of power greens (kale+chard+spinach!)
  • 1/3 c white beans, drained and rinsed
  • a squirt of Bragg’s liquid aminos, or soy sauce (whatever your preference)
  • 1/4-1/2 avocado, cubed

Wash and dry the sweet potato, and poke some holes in it so it doesn’t explode in the microwave (no one wants that…). Toss it in on the baked potato setting, until done. Once finished, slice it lengthwise down the center, and smash a bit of tahini on the inside while it’s still hot.

While the sweet potato is doin’ its thang, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet. Add rinsed greens and white beans, and sauté until greens are wilted.

Aesthetically layer your greens and beans into the prepared sweet potato, and top with a bit of Bragg’s. Garnish (or cover liberally, your choice… we know which one I chose) with avo!

Eat hot, and revel in your simple meal that is so delicious and so good for you! Free radicals, you have no choice but to capitulate! Muahahaha.

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